As xkcd stated a so-called uplift (pactum de palmario) which is paid upon success in addition to (normal) rates is permissible.
I put normal rates in brackets since the rates can be reduced, they simple need to be high enough to cover the lawyer's costs and a bit (more info in German: http://www.oliverkunz.ch/blog/?itemid=20
). At the time of the court decision rates of CHF 200 were considered sufficient. I gather that this has increased somewhat since then.
The reasoning is that this will give the lawyer sufficient flexibility to give unbiased advice and not needlessly pursue a (hopeless) case (possibly contrary to the client's interest) simply in order to achieve a win and thus earn money. Accordingly, a pure no-win, no-fee arrangement is not admissible. So a lawyer will not be allowed to take a case on a pure contingency basis ( Pactum de quota litis). If he does he will get into trouble with supervisory authority.
Invariably it is the client that proposes a success fee arrangements. Either as a quid pro quo for reducing the hourly rates, capping fees, etc., or because the client believes this will align the interests of the client and the lawyers. There are quite a few different options:
- a fixed uplift sum
- a percentage of the recovered amount
- reduced rates that will subsequently be increased if you win.
I've seen it applied a few times but (i) you need to be a sophisticated client in that you really need to map out all the eventualities, i.e. what happens when a matter gets settled, how are counterclaims considered, etc. (don't expect the lawyer to help you here, you are in a negotiation), and (ii) generally it only makes sense in large scale disputes with significant fees being generated.
In smaller cases, the client is generally better off simply asking for a discount.